KYIV, Ukraine — While many of Ukraine’s human rights activists, civil society leaders and politicians applauded the Nobel committee’s recognition of the country’s Center for Civil Liberties on Friday, there was also a near immediate backlash from some corners.
Some saw the decision to group a Ukrainian civil society organization with human rights defenders from Russia and Belarus — two of the country’s aggressors — as an affront to those who have been working to protect Ukrainians since Russia invaded the country in February.
When President Vladimir V. Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops rolled into the country from both its own territory and from Belarus. The leader of Belarus, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, is one of Mr. Putin’s closest allies.
Valeriia Voshchevska, a Ukrainian human rights activist, praised the award for the Center for Civil Liberties, which she said had “been working tirelessly to promote human rights values.”
But she also noted that the committee’s choice of laureates reinforced the false narrative espoused by President Vladimir V. Putin that he has used to justify the invasion — the claim that he is protecting citizens of “brotherly nations.”
“The more you force Ukrainians, Russians and Belarusians into the same public spaces, the more you reinforce this concept and reinforce Putin’s narrative,” she wrote on Twitter. “Big organizations with high prominence need to really acknowledge that their words and actions have power.”
The Nobel committee in Oslo said it was giving the award to “three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence in the neighbor countries Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.”
Andrij Melnyk, a Ukrainian diplomat and former ambassador to Germany, wrote in a post on Twitter that grouping the three organizations together was the “craziest look at peace” in the award’s history.
Those sentiments were echoed by Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.
“Nobel Committee has an interesting understanding of word ‘peace’ if representatives of two countries that attacked a third one receive @NobelPrize together,” he tweeted. “Neither Russian nor Belarusian organizations were able to organize resistance to the war.”
Mariana Bezuhla, a Ukrainian lawmaker and deputy chair of the Parliament’s committee on national security, defense and intelligence, said in a post that she felt it was “inadmissible to accept any prize with Russians and Belarusians.” She added: “We need to refuse it.”
Janine di Giovanni, who heads a group that documents war crimes and is currently in Kyiv, said she had spoken with several human rights activists there who were “absolutely horrified” by Friday’s announcement.
“This is incredibly disrespectful. It’s lumping Belarus and Russia together with Ukraine,” said Ms. di Giovanni, director of the Reckoning Project in Ukraine. The Nobel committee was “not thinking through the sensitivities of how this is hurting people,” she added.
Ms. di Giovanni said that it might have been appropriate to give the award to activists in the three countries once the war was over — but only after reparations had been paid and justice served. Doing so while the war is raging and crimes are being committed sends the wrong signal, she said.
Some responses to the award also noted a perceived imbalance in the type of persecution and the dangers faced by the prize’s recipients.
“Despite all the merits of the laureates from Russia and Belarus, Ukrainians do not want the struggle for human rights in the three countries to be perceived equally,” Anastasia Magazova, a Berlin-based Ukrainian journalist, explained in a post on Twitter.
“In Belarus and Russia, human rights defenders are fighting for the rights of people in dictatorships,” she wrote. “And in Ukraine they document the war crimes of these dictatorships, because missiles fly to Ukraine from Belarus and Russia.”
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